Live Review: The Fiery Furnaces – Kung Fu Necktie, Philadelphia 6/10/09


The Fiery Furnaces’ new record isn’t out for another few weeks, but that didn’t stop the Chicago experimental garage rockers from playing the upcoming I’m Going Away in full – albeit a bit out of order – last night at Philadelphia’s Kung Fu Necktie.

From the moment the show was announced for the Fishtown hipster haven, something seemed amiss: why would a band like the Fiery Furnaces play a 120-person capacity bar when it’s accustomed to playing –and filling — venues four and five times the size?

Despite the unorthodox setting and lack of an opener, the Furnaces’ set started off innocently enough with a rendition of “Here Comes the Summer,” sans the electronic flourishes jettisoned by Matt Friedberger’s decision to play guitar all night.

As a result, the entire set was a whole lot more straightforward than we’ve come to expect from the Fiery Furnaces, but in sacrificing a bit of the band’s more radical tendencies, the resultant performance was a little noisier and a whole lot more boisterous than usual.

After a couple more Furnaces classics, the band got down to business: all twelve tracks from the as-yet-unreleased I’m Going Away, due out July 21st. It was the first time any of the songs had been played in public, but they were pretty damn tight for an inaugural performance.

As mentioned, the band went with a standard guitar-drums-bass lineup for the show, so missing was the new record’s ubiquitous piano, although if nothing else, the guitar adaptations rocked a little harder.

Finally, after churning through all the new material – well received, by the way, for a 45-minute stretch of music completely foreign to the audience – the band closed with a few songs from 2007’s Widow City and “Worry Worry” from Gallowsbird’s Bark before returning to the stage for an encore with “Single Again.”

All in all, the show was the sort of intimate experience every fan hopes for as his favorite band gets bigger and bigger, but one that’s usually the stuff of fantasy. Last night, though, it was all real.